Georgia Tech opens regional with win

Published: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 5:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2012 at 5:36 p.m.

Former Georgia Tech standout Nomar Garciaparra was a notorious first-pitch swinger throughout his 13-year Major League career.

That philosophy rubbed off on the Yellow Jackets on Friday afternoon at McKethan Stadium. Georgia Tech scored seven of its eight runs by swinging at the first pitch in its 8-4 win over College of Charleston at the NCAA Gainesville Regional.

“We’re aggressive,” Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. “I hope we are. But I think we’re pretty smart hitters also. Sometimes that first pitch is the best one you’re going to see, and so, it’s a good one to jump on.”

College of Charleston jumped to a 1-0 lead on an RBI single from Brandon Murray. But Georgia Tech quickly answered in the bottom of the first inning. With two runners on, Georgia Tech first baseman Jake Davies jumped on a first-pitch fastball from College of Charleston starter Christian Powell and drove it for a towering three-run homer to right field to put the Yellow Jackets back up 3-1.

“We had a meeting before the game and we knew he was going to throw a lot of fastballs,” Davies said. “He could run it up there mid-90s, low-90s so he was a pretty confident guy with his fastballs. I was looking middle in and he threw it right where I wanted it and I got the barrel on it.”

Davies, who added an RBI double on a first-pitch swing in the fourth inning, has been locked in of late. The senior from McDonough, Ga., has five home runs and 15 RBIs over his last five games.

“He’s getting good pitches to hit and he’s not missing them,” Hall said.

College of Charleston tied the score in the top of the second on a two-run homer from Marty Gantt. But Georgia Tech again responded with a four-run second inning. Sam Dove had an RBI single and Brandon Thomas belted a three-run homer on a first pitch fastball to extend Georgia Tech’s lead to 7-3.

“Getting off to that start for us was huge to keep that momentum rolling,” Dove said.

Second-seed Georgia Tech (37-24) won its sixth straight game and did not seem fazed about a potential matchup against NCAA Tournament top overall seed Florida on Saturday night. Georgia Tech will face the winner on Friday night’s UF-Bethune Cookman game.

“We’re not going to lay down for them just because they are number 1 (overall seed),” Davies said. “We’re not intimidated. I’m not, at least.”

Georgia Tech won the ACC Tournament last week with wins over Florida State, Virginia, Clemson and Miami.

“They are a good team but we play in a very strong conference,” Dove said. “Playing Florida State, we beat them last week and they’re as good as any team in the country. So we’re definitely a confident team and we’re playing as good as anyone in the country right now.”

Hall took a risk by starting Cole Pitts and saving ace starter Buck Farmer for Saturday night’s game. Pitts allowed four runs over 3.2 innings, but Georgia Tech received a big lift out of the bullpen from sophomore righty Dusty Isaacs. Isaacs (6-4) pitched shutout ball over the final 5.1 innings to earn the win.

“I was just glad to get in there and pick Cole up,” Isaacs said. “All season guys have been picking me up so I was kind of glad to return the favor.”

Teamwork has helped Georgia Tech put together its best stretch of baseball at the end of the season.

“We’ve been making plays when we needed to, we’ve been making pitches when we’ve needed to and we’re getting timely hits,” Hall said.”If you are doing that and you have a pretty good team you have a chance to stay in a lot of ballgames and win some games.”

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